Team Westvaal BMC's Gawie Combrinck (left) and Nico Bell, the 2012 champions, at the Johannesburg launch of the 2013 Bridge Cape Pioneer Trek.

Photo credit: Zoon Cronje

The total distance of 549 kilometers over seven days is very reasonable and in line with the organizers’ quest to deliver quality distance, not quantity distance. The ratio of vertical ascent isn’t excessive, but it’s relatively high and indicative of the gradient the route will cover. There’s a total of 11 657 meters of vertical ascent, which is spread very evenly throughout the event.

As with 2012, the 2013 edition incorporates a mountain-top stage finish that’s once again sure to be the main talking point of the race. Day 3, Stage 2 covers a distance of 92km but includes a total ascent of 2760 meters. This averages out to 30 meters of ascent per kilometer, much of which comes in the final 30km.

The final climb up the Swartberg Pass is 12km in distance and climbs 1100 meters, giving it a HC (out of category) rating, unique in South Africa. Also unique is the R100 000 (US $10 000) prize for the first team to cross the finish line.


Master of Ceremonies, Gerald de Kock, addresses the guests at the Johannesburg launch of the 2013 Bridge Cape Pioneer Trek.

Photo credit: Zoon Cronje

“It’s a relatively short stage, but we have added some tough sections before the riders reach the final climb to the finish. This will ensure that the stage winning team really has to be good allround mountain bikers and not just strong climbers,” said Henco Rademeyer of Dryland Event Management, the organizers.

“We’re constantly looking to add more soul to the Cape Pioneer Trek and with our adjustment in making the route shorter, we’ve been able to spend time creating great riding experiences in some of the most dramatic and varied terrain of any race anywhere,” explained Rademeyer.

“I wouldn’t miss this race for anything. It’s an awesome event with a challenging route” said SCOTT Factory Racing’s Matthys Beukes, who along with teammate Philip Buys, were the top South African team in sixth place overall at the 2013 ABSA Cape Epic.

“We are spoiled for choice in South Africa with great stage races. After having done it previously and seeing the route for 2013, I think this year’s route looks more manageable for the majority of riders, but still very race-able for the top guys,” said Andrew McLean, top veteran racer and Supercycling TV show presenter.


Bridge CEO, Emile Aldum (right) at the Johannesburg launch of the 2013 Bridge Cape Pioneer Trek.

Photo credit: Zoon Cronje

“If the vibe at this route launch is anything to go by, we are in for a great tour of the Klein Karoo in October. I’m amped!” said Oliver Munnik, a top racer for GT bicycles whose blog is based on the quest for hard, but fun racing experiences.

“We had some mechanical issues at the 2012 race, with about a 15 minute delay on the Swartberg Pass stage. I’m chuffed to see that stage is back again in 2013. Hopefully it will be without any delays for us this year. It’s certainly motivating to chase such a big prize, but it’s a tough stage and fitting to be part of a world class race,” said Nico Bell, who along with Gawie Combrinck, won the 2012 edition of the race.

“On paper, it looks easier than it be will to ride,” said Sean Badenhorst, editor of TREAD magazine. “You have to remember that much of the Cape Pioneer Trek takes place in the Karoo region and the terrain is rough and unforgiving. That saps more energy from you than you realize and contributes to the onset of fatigue. This route is not to be underestimated.”

For Bridge CEO, Emile Aldum, the association with the Cape Pioneer Trek has been a positive one on various levels:

“Being involved with Dryland Event Management for the second year running has been rewarding. The value we gained as title sponsor of the 2012 Bridge Cape Pioneer Trek was remarkable,” said Aldum.

“Not only does this sponsorship add value to our brand but it also gives Bridge the opportunity to change people’s lives. Bridge is an unsecured lender and credit provider with branches nationwide and feels privileged to have been involved in the communities and towns along the trek (route).”

Once again, the Cape Pioneer Trek incorporates the local communities through which the race passes. This ensures the event receives optimal support and acceptance.

“Securing the community involvement is one of the keys to the ongoing success of the Cape Pioneer Trek. Nobody is as passionate or as proud to be involved as the people of the towns that the race touches. And we are just as pleased to be able to bring a world class sports event to their region and through which they can raise funds needed for important community projects,” added Rademeyer.

The stages for the 2013 Bridge Cape Pioneer Trek:

20 October: Prologue, 14.8km, 354m ascent – Buffelsdrift Game Lodge, Oudtshoorn

21 October: Stage 1, 105km, 1 768m ascent – Buffelsdrift Game Lodge to Calitzdorp

22 October: Stage 2, 92km, 2 760m ascent – Calitzdorp to Swartberg Pass Summit

23 October: Stage 3, 107km, 1 543m ascent – Prince Albert to De Rust

24 October: Stage 4, 70km, 1 950m ascent – De Rust to Herold

25 October: Stage 5, 70km, 1 698m ascent – Herold to George

26 October: Stage 6, 91km, 1 584m ascent – George to Oudtshoorn

Total distance: 549.8km

Total ascent: 11 657m

There are limited entries still available for the 2013 Bridge Cape Pioneer Trek. The main focus is on two-rider teams, but there is also a solo category. For detailed 2013 route information and to enter, visit